'I'm so glad I wound up being a musician, ' Butch Trucks says

Credit: Vaughan, Becca (CMG-WestPalm)

Credit: Vaughan, Becca (CMG-WestPalm)

Allman Brothers Band founding member and drummer Butch Trucks died Tuesday night, Jan. 24, in West Palm Beach, Fla. at age 69. This is an interview from the AJC conducted in 2012.

Butch Trucks is rarely at a loss for words.

Whether reminiscing about the Allman Brothers, reiterating the band's love for its annual shows at the Beacon Theatre ("It's like going home every night") or explaining how the set list is chosen for each concert (that's guitarist Warren Haynes' duty), Trucks is happy to expound.

The original drummer for the celebrated Southern rockers (along with fellow sticksman Jaimoe Johanson) is talking from his home in Florida, where an hourlong conversation ping-pongs from the Allmans' then-upcoming dates with Santana to Gregg Allman's autobiography to politics to literature and back again to the band.

For more than a decade, this incarnation of the Allmans has remained steady --- Gregg Allman, Trucks, his nephew Derek on guitar, Oteil Burbridge on bass, Marc Quinones on drums and percussion, Haynes and Johanson.

Trucks, 65, believes it's the last version of the band fans will see perform live, so perhaps it's worth considering attending their Wednesday show at Chastain Park Amphitheatre.

Here's what else he had to say:

Q: You mentioned on your blog [the butchtrucks.blog spot.com/] that you were really proud of Gregg's book ["My Cross to Bear"]. What did you think about him calling Derek the reincarnation of Duane [Allman]?

A: The first time I saw Derek play as a 12-year-old, I sat there with my mouth hanging open and it was like I was watching Duane. But Derek does not like to hear that. Not. At. All. When he was a kid, he didn't mind people comparing him, but to say he is Duane? Nuh-uh. You've gotta remember, Duane played slide guitar for less than five years. Derek has been playing for 24 years ... Derek has gone into places that Duane never ventured into. Derek will play a solo that sounds like Ravi Shankar and Blind Willie McTell. He's coming up with a style and when you hear that boy play, there's no doubt about it, it is Derek Trucks.

Q: You guys received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys this year. Did anyone talk to Dickey [Betts, the band's original guitarist who left after a fallout in 2000]?

A: He didn't come. He was coming all the way until the day before and then canceled. We worked it out for him to fly in the next morning for the ceremony, but I guess he just didn't want to come. I don't know if we'll ever see each other again. Everybody was thinking the Grammys would be a great chance to see each other without having to play. But it's like Humpty Dumpty. I can't see all the king's horses putting him together again. It was his choice [to leave the band] no matter how many times you read that he was fired by fax.

Q: It's no secret that Gregg's health has been fragile lately. What will happen to the Allmans if he --- or anyone in the band --- can't tour? Will you go on?

A: To be honest, we kind of talk about it and the seven members of the Allmans we have right now is the band that will play as the Allman Brothers Band. So basically, if Warren or Derek couldn't tour, or pretty much anyone couldn't tour, we wouldn't tour.

Q: This is the 40th anniversary year of "Eat a Peach." What do you remember when you think back to recording that album?

A: That record, even though it was the biggest seller we ever had, that was when we started going down. We got lucky that one of the songs happened to be a hit single and it made us a big hit band, but all in all, [our next album] "Brothers and Sisters" doesn't compare to "Eat a Peach." "Brothers and Sisters" is when Dickey started taking over. It was getting really country and we started getting away from all the jazz we've been playing.

Q: What keeps you motivated to still get out there and jam?

A: You know, I just don't know. You ever been in love with somebody? It's like that. It just works. There's some things you can't explain. I just finished a round with medical stuff --- glaucoma --- so I'm feeling tired right now. But I know what will happen. As soon as we start playing [a show], I'll feel like an 18-year-old Superman and I can play forever.

There's something about music when it's really working that is inexplicable. Even Ayn Rand said music was the one thing that baffled her, because it bypasses the brain. When you're listening to a band and really get off on it, you're not analyzing it, you're feeling it. I'm so glad I wound up being a musician. It's just a wonderful life.